Bishop Helps Celebrate Justice For Our Neighbors Clinic Grand Opening

Date Posted: 7/23/2015

After four years of planning and fundraising, Houston/East Texas Justice for Our Neighbors (HETX JFON) is open and providing legal counsel at the new branch at Mision Milby.
Five immigrant families and individuals with unique stories received legal consultation at the inaugural clinic held at Mision Milby on July 11. “Our grand opening and first clinic was a seamless success,” notes Brenda Naya Diaz, executive director of the Houston/East Texas Justice for our Neighbors (HETX/JFON) clinic. “All of our first clients left our office with much gratitude and appreciation for having their immigration related legal needs assessed.” 
JFON is a network of legal clinics based in United Methodist churches around the country. The Houston charter providing law services to immigrants opened this month in Houston’s East End with the goal of providing hospitality and compassion to low-income immigrants through immigration legal services, advocacy and education. Rev. Will Reed, Servants of Christ UMC, is serving as the interim clinic coordinator.
This milestone has been a goal and passion of Rev. Diane McGehee, Director, TAC Center for Missional Excellence, for half a decade. Attending the ribbon-cutting on Friday, July 10 to share comments alongside Bishop Janice R. Huie, Diane shared, “The Texas Annual Conference is inviting our immigrant brothers and sisters to join us at the table of God’s grace. We have been working for many years with leaders across denominations, to advocate for comprehensive immigration reform that keeps families together, respects workers and insists that they be treated justly and paid fair wages, and that honors human dignity regardless of whether a person is documented or undocumented.” Adds Diane, “HETX JFON is a significant step, among many steps already taken, and yet to come, in working for the just treatment of all persons.”
Bishop Janice Riggle Huie reminded those gathered, “As United Methodist, we believe that to welcome the stranger is to welcome a child of God.  We are called to love the sojourner in our midst. Therefore, we believe the treatment of immigrants in our society is a core religious value. The opening of the Justice for our Neighbors clinic is a sign of our love for the sojourner in our midst that Jesus taught and demonstrated to his disciples.”

Adds Brenda, “I received many wonderful remarks and feedback from our guests regarding our ribbon cutting and hope to duplicate the efforts and success for our next two clinics in Gethsemane and Tyler. It was a blessing to have Pat Holmes be our master of ceremonies and help us introduce our special guests: Bishop Janice R. Huie, Senator Sylvia Garcia, and Council member Robert Gallegos.  All our speakers were very inspirational reminding us why JFON HETX exists and the commitment we all have to our most vulnerable immigrant brothers and sisters. I also appreciate board member and Rev. Will Reed speaking about the important relationship JFON HETX has with Mision Milby and the gap JFON HETX will help fill in the growing immigrant community of the East End.” The Friday ribbon-cutting also featured the festive music of Mariachi Guadalupano.
Almost a dozen volunteers helped make the first-ever JFON clinic run smoothly. The clinic includes an area designated for intake, childcare, food and hospitality area, a waiting room and an attorney consultation room.  Adds Brenda, “The operation of this clinic could not have been a success had it not been for the overwhelming compassion and love of our volunteers for what JFON represents in this community.” Volunteers will be needed on an ongoing basis for greeting clients, preparing and serving food and entertaining children.
“As Methodist Christians we affirm the inherent dignity and worth of every human being as made in the image of God, regardless of their legal status, explains Brenda. “ We also affirm that ALL are welcome at the table of God’s grace.”